Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Bill would monitor prescriptions




By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — An Ohio lawmaker wants to make it tougher for prescription drug abusers to get their fixes.

        House Rep. Tom Raga, R-Deerfield Twp., said Tuesday he will introduce legislation this weekthat would create a statewide database to identify people who shop for doctors to acquire addictive painkillers for their own use or for sale.

        Such a database would be modeled after a three-year-old program in Kentucky called the Kentucky All-Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system, or KASPER, Mr. Raga said.

        That program has been such a success, say local police, that it is pushing prescription abusers from Kentucky into Greater Cincinnati to buy powerful painkillers, such as OxyContin, as well as stimulants and tranquilizers.

        “Once Kentucky put their program into place, those abusers cross the boarder into Ohio, where there is not a monitoring program,” Mr. Raga said.

        “The problem has been mentioned frequently by our drug enforcement folks in Warren County and I can imagine that the problem is worse in areas that border Kentucky. If they're already driving up to Warren County, they are stopping along the way.”

        Ohio's database would be controlled by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, which would provide information to law enforcement, pharmacists and doctors.

        “It will be of major assistance for people that get involved in drug investigations,” said John Burke, commander of the Warren County Drug Task Force.

        “Doctor shopping is a hugely underrated problem. It is across the country. It goes pretty much unreported or undetected unless you have an agency that's dedicated to it.”

        It was one of Mr. Burke's agents, Dennis Luken, a retired prescription drug investigator for the Cincinnati Police Department, who proposed the creation of an Ohio monitoring system, Mr. Raga said.

        Mr. Raga said he hopes the bill will be ready for the governor's signature by the end of the year.

       



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